There is dirt on the living room floor, clumps of mud that have dried and fallen in flattish pieces, zig-zagged from the tread of a small shoe. I vacuumed this morning, but it doesn’t matter, the dirt is still there. I could vacuum now and it would be there tomorrow in the exact same place. Maybe a few feet off to the side, depending on someone’s path.

During the month of January I was filled with discipline and new goals and I worked up a sweat every single day, wrote down the things I ate and avoided the things I shouldn’t eat and my pants grew loose and I spent my evenings smiling at my new muscles and running my hands over my leaner waistline. During the month of February I started with my son’s birthday cake and I didn’t really stop after that, and my pants grew tight again and I started avoiding mirrors and untouched gym cards.

Last week I spent hours hunched over my laptop surfing for story ideas and writing things that felt increasingly formulaic—first paragraph is for SEO, second paragraph is to entice the click-through, find the photo add the tags categorize the post pitch the headline hit publish and move on to the next thing—and next week I will do the same and the week after that. Sometimes I think about how I miss writing for pleasure but I am so tired of screens and words and somewhere along the line it all started feeling like work. Tagged: blocked, writer’s block, lost, lost inspiration, lost creativity, laptop ennui.

Sit down and eat and quit messing around, I snap. Pick up your Legos. Stop doing that to the cat. Guys, KNOCK IT OFF. I say these things over and over and over and over.

I have the sense that my life is revolving like a giant gear, the same cogs going by every time I look. Something is advancing forward, but what? My children. My wrinkles. Everywhere things are moving but parts of me have been in the same place for months.


40 Responses to “Groove”

  1. Beth on February 25th, 2012 1:27 pm


  2. Lori on February 25th, 2012 1:33 pm

    It’s winter. I fully blame February. Things always start to look up in March. You may feel like your writing is formulaic, but I think your posts on The Stir are great.

  3. Joybell on February 25th, 2012 2:08 pm

    It’s winter. In Seattle. That’s all there is to it.

  4. NancyJ on February 25th, 2012 2:10 pm

    I agree with Lori – its February. The weather is going to start getting nicer (well on the east coast don’t quite know WA weather) and you’ll feel like the bear is off your back.
    I love all your stuff – here, Cafe Mom – keep it up!

  5. Terri on February 25th, 2012 2:22 pm

    oh my goodness, I am so there with you right now!!

    In a few shorts weeks the days will start getting longer and more filled with sunshine. We’ll both feel better for it, I know it.

  6. Heather Verstat on February 25th, 2012 2:59 pm

    Yes, yes, yes. This winter is killing me. Cannot wait for spring.

  7. c on February 25th, 2012 3:15 pm

    This. is. me.

  8. Super T on February 25th, 2012 3:47 pm

    I’ve always believed that February has been universally loathed since pretty much the beginning of time. It’s the shortest month (by 3 days) and I just know the guys who were sitting down to write the original calendar felt just like we feel. “Just get it over with already!”

    Hang in there — the end is in sight.

  9. Denice on February 25th, 2012 4:38 pm

    I agree. I always get a super case of the BLAHS in February. It’ll all get better when spring arrives. Just hang in there.

  10. Becky on February 25th, 2012 8:28 pm

    I get that way too. My job is not nearly as cool as your job, especially these days (gotta love working for the State) so I feel like I’ve been in a rut for a while as well.
    Of course, when that happens, I start looking for better opportunities.
    Perhaps this is a good time to do that? Have you looked into writing for magazines, writing a novel, etc? Even just starting a new project can sometimes be all you need to get out of a rut.
    Good luck!

  11. Nicole on February 25th, 2012 8:57 pm

    I blame the WAH thing. I do it, too, and it always feels like a treadmill. Not that it’s better or worse than working outside the home, but it comes with it’s own set of issues.

  12. Annie on February 25th, 2012 9:04 pm

    me too.

  13. sweetney on February 26th, 2012 6:59 am

    I know this feeling. I know this feeling well. This is when I – and it happens about once a year – really grapple with quitting blogging and doing something else. But then I decide: fuck it, rather than quit I’ll just do exactly what I want and screw everyone! Which tends to make it new and fresh again somehow, and I trudge forward.

    Sometimes – in writing and in life – you have to just say Fuck It and break away. Cast off what’s holding you back and recreate how you live and work in a way that suits you. We all change and grow – what worked for you one, two, or five years ago may not now. It’s okay to change, and change it up.

    /assvice & 2-centsishness. xo

  14. Lori on February 26th, 2012 6:59 am

    You forgot about “bolding the text”. You forgot that piece of the formula. Maybe that’s what is missing – some bold text.

  15. MotherGooseAmy on February 26th, 2012 7:45 am

    I’m thinking you need a vacation somewhere exotic. But before you leave you need a new outfit and a trip to the spa. When you get home you’ll be all unclogged and fresh and in love with words again.

    Ah, if it were that easy….

  16. Angella on February 26th, 2012 8:57 am

    I hear you. And love you, friend. Wish I lived closer and then we could go on a random adventure in a pedi-cab or something. :)

  17. Melissa on February 26th, 2012 9:50 am

    Misery loves company right? So, I’m going to join this party. Sometimes routine and structure like this are comforting and sometimes I get this antsy “I’m doing it wrong and wasting my short life” feeling.

    Hoping for happier, more satisfying times sooner rather than later for all of us!

  18. Kris on February 26th, 2012 10:32 am

    Me, too. Jeezus H. Christ, me too.

    I don’t know if you could find a way to swing it, but I just booked a vacation to Vegas BY MYSELF for the first week in May. Husband’s frequent flyer miles + cheap hotel = Mom’s Gone Wild.

    That trip is the only thing keeping my last little shred of sanity in place. If you can find a way to do something similar, just for you, do it. Do it now.

  19. Sarah on February 26th, 2012 2:27 pm

    I swear, this site frightens me sometimes in how closely what you write about matches what I’m currently thinking. It helps me more than words can say to know that there are so many other people out there with the same stuff going on. And if you’re ever out and run into a really tall gal who gives you a creepy-long hug out of the blue, don’t freak out, it’s probably just me. Melissa – amen to your “Hoping for happier, more satisfying times sooner rather than later for all of us!”

  20. Lori on February 26th, 2012 2:50 pm

    February can bite me. Really. Throw in norovirus, colds, yucky weather, and cabin fever. I hope March brings a bit more sunshine and inspiration your way.

  21. coffee stained on February 27th, 2012 12:02 am


    February is the worst month in the Pacific Northwest, I believe (coming from a New England transplant). With crocuses and daffodils popping up all around signaling that spring *should* be in full gear, February slaps us in the face with a freak snowfall, like a cruel bitch telling us that it is still winter, and we’re nowhere near the end of muddy floor season.

    Wishing you a spring-like state of mind.

  22. Deanna on February 27th, 2012 5:38 am

    This sounds alot like what you would write when you were at your old job. Remember those feelings? But you are in a better place right now, right? So, yes, the gears turn and sometimes it just takes time. <> You are a great mom!
    PS: I miss your Survivor reviews and wish you wrote Amazing Race reviews! Your writing is great!

  23. A. on February 27th, 2012 7:10 am

    I hear you. I know exactly how you feel. I type all day long and can barely find the time to write for pleasure between work and toddler and dinner and laundry and sitting motionless in front of the TV.

    But, I do want you to know that there are so many of us out here who love what you write – whether for pleasure or work – and you make us laugh and nod along. So, maybe we just don’t say it enough, but we love and appreciate what you do!

  24. Janet in Miami on February 27th, 2012 9:12 am

    Be sure you take really good pictures of some of those little muddy shoe prints. One day, before you know it, you’ll be picking up size 13 reeking sneakers from your not-so-little people, and you’ll smile remembering their muddy teeny shoe prints.

  25. Janet in Miami on February 27th, 2012 9:17 am

    On another note – I’m totally enthralled with this show “Who do you think you are?” that traces geneaologies. I watched Blair Underwood’s segment and saw Lionel Richie’s segment awhile back. Totally hooked. Through research, they found that Blair Underwoods 5X great grandfather was a free black man living in Virginia in around 1719. He owned 200 acres of land and *gasp* had on record owning two slaves himself. Wait for it – the man likely had purchased his own parents so they could be together, and he took care of them until they died. I got pretty misty about that one.

    Have you ever thought about doing something like that? It is an exciting thing to do while you’re waiting for the weather to get un-sucky.


  26. Fidi on February 27th, 2012 11:05 am

    Yes. But change “months” into years. And even though the miserable weather and its friendly, but distant inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest remind me so much of my beloved hometown in northern Germany, I am miserable.

  27. adequatemom on February 27th, 2012 11:09 am

    Hear ya. Soooo hard.

  28. Feebs on February 27th, 2012 11:17 am

    Swap out the formula for designing web sites and that right there is why I’m currently racing towards saving up enough over the next 3 months to quit my job and just do nothing for a bit…Until I miss coming up with new ways to layout the same old, header, logo, content block here, footer, legal etc.

  29. MRW on February 27th, 2012 1:25 pm

    Yes this. Work has been so insane that the only treadmill I’ve been near in weeks is the work/home/kids treadmill. When I don’t exercise I feel like hell and the world seems bleh, but when the choice is exercise or get fired because I haven’t done my work, work wins and the feeling that this will never let up is depressing. I know things will change, when when in the rut, it just seems grim.

  30. BabyKMama on February 27th, 2012 2:42 pm

    I started WW about a month ago… did really well the first week, then my dad went into the hospital. Still stayed on top of things the second week… weeks later, my dad passed away (not entirely unexpected, but still stressful), my three-year old son had a fever for days and wouldn’t let me two feet away from him, yada yada… and I ate pizza and dug into Ben and Jerrys that I knew I had no business buying at the store last night. Tomorrow is another day… and everything goes in cycles, the funk will snap soon I hope.

  31. BabyMacBeth on February 27th, 2012 5:25 pm

    It’s summer here and I feel EXACTLY the same way. EXACTLY.

  32. Frondly on February 28th, 2012 12:24 pm

    What you need is to look forward to not having your brains eaten. I mean, you’ve seen this right? I’m so excited about it I’m having nightmares already:

  33. Stacy H-W on February 28th, 2012 12:52 pm

    Sounds like you are happier and more motivated when you exercise…just saying. Have I mentioned how impressed I was with your home schooling?? I personally would pull my hair out if I had to home school and when you showed your lesson plans I was impressed with your creativity. Maybe you should have an Oprah moment and start a gratitude journal. It totally redirects your thought when you are constantly trying to think of positive stuff to write in it!! ha I hope you get to feel better soon.

  34. Simon on February 28th, 2012 6:08 pm

    Kinda reminds me of my favorite line in the history of popular music:

    “Oh yeah, I said life goes on/
    Long after the thrill of living is gone.”

    My dad once told me that the way life goes is that you get to a certain point where you trudge through the days, doing shit you don’t want to do, raising kids who don’t know how much you do for them, and watching the expanse of dreams ahead of you turn into a list of things you never did. But when this happens, you’re not alone. Not one in a thousand escapes having periods like this.

    God knows I’m in that period now. A kid. A shitty job. Another kid on the way. A house I can’t afford. Daycare that eats up my check. But I do my best to cling onto the moments that lift me up out of it – kisses with my wife, a night out playing with my band, an afternoon sitting in the yard in the sun.

    We all have to go on living, and do the shit we need to do, and take solace in the fact that everyone else goes through it too.

  35. tanya on February 28th, 2012 8:14 pm

    bless you. Thanks for keeping it up. Really.

  36. kim on February 29th, 2012 8:56 am

    Simon, that was beautiful. And brutal for its truth. I watched my dad spend his career in a job he totally hated — I don’t know how he managed to keep his shit together. But he wasn’t (isn’t) an unhappy or bitter guy. He just did what needed doing (and my brother & I were ungrateful pains in the ass, truth be told) and found happiness where he could: mostly, by enjoying nature.

    Sundry (and many others) have expressed the same feelings I’ve been going through lately. Right now, EVERYTHING in my life feels boring, burdensome, and blah. I have made it through many stressful, difficult, & challening events in recent years, but now I feel bored & restless with the relative calm. I don’t even know what new “challenge” I want, because there’s nothing that feels inspiring. I am glad to be finished with the rollercoaster ride I’ve been on, but now I feel like I’m stagnating.

    Well, as someone else said, misery loves company; or rather, it’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one in this predicament. I hope everyone here is right & the spring will bust me out of this rut.

  37. All Adither on February 29th, 2012 6:22 pm

    I thought about your blog many times today and felt compelled to come over and here and see what you’re up to. I know that rutted feeling. Something semi-amazing will happen and you’ll pull out. At least for a while.

    I’m tired of being such a nag, too.

  38. Erin@MommyontheSpot on March 2nd, 2012 6:35 pm

    February and March: they are difficult months. When I get that tight feeling in my chest that life is happening not quite the way I had hoped, I just try and breath through it. Because after each breath comes another, and with that, another chance to make change. Maybe to see something positive that i couldn’t see before.

    I know it sounds simplistic and maybe a touch corny, but hey, sometimes it works.

  39. Shannon Lell on March 2nd, 2012 10:27 pm

    Recently I heard someone say that the only thing that makes us happy is forward progress; as in, moving toward something we want. The more I think about that, the more I believe that is true. For myself I have realized that the moment I give up on pushing myself toward something I want(better health, finishing my book, reading more, writing more) I stop being excited about anything and start feeling stuck. The moment I pick up the charge again, I feel better.

    It’s hard being disciplined and I’m not very good at it, but it beats the alternative, which is apathy. I guess that’s part of growing up, right? Maybe someday I’ll get there.

  40. Cheryl @ Coffee with Cheryl on March 6th, 2012 9:00 am

    I get a case of the February’s every single year starting oh, around January 2nd. Once Christmas is over I would seriously like to hibernate until the 1st day of spring. I just try to work my way through it and be positive…winter doesn’t last forever!

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